Why a Psychiatrist Must Disclose Their Mental Illness

A man receiving counselling

Mental health illnesses are very common. Approximately 1 in 4 people in the UK experience a mental health problem every year. Just because psychiatrists actively work to diagnose and treat mental disorders doesn’t mean that they can’t go through them themselves. But working as psychiatrists by profession, they should disclose their mental illness. Here are some reasons why.

Doctor-Patient Integrity

Honesty is important in any relationship and this includes that of a doctor and a patient as well. Some patients may have reservations getting treatment from a psychiatrist who is going through a mental illness themselves.

Being honest with their patients from the start and disclosing their own mental health condition will make patients trust them more. They may also feel like the psychiatrist can relate with and truly have experienced what they are going through as well which can lead to a stronger doctor-patient relationship.

Psychiatrist counselling a bullying victim

Mental Well-being of the Psychiatrist

Depression is very common among physicians. They have a higher suicide rate than that of the general population, and even higher than that of other kinds of academics. If a psychiatrist is suicidal then treating, diagnosing and even talking to patients who are in a similar position and experiencing suicidal thoughts as well may worsen their mental health It may even encourage their suicidal tendencies instead.

Effect on Work

It can also be a hindrance to their work and affect their behaviour towards patients. People who are experiencing mental illnesses like depression or anxiety can develop traits like pessimism, cynical thoughts, and a tendency to overthink. This may have an impact on a psychiatrist’s treatment or counselling of their patients as well.

Instead of being impartial or encouraging towards their patients they may exhibit behaviour that disillusions them or makes them more depressed instead. Being able to relate to your psychiatrist is not always a good thing. It may have a completely inverse effect than the one intended.

This is why psychiatrists should be open about the mental illnesses they’re experiencing, in order to not cause unintentional harm to others. Psychiatry is a very interesting discipline to study but if you don’t have the time or aptitude to spend years in medical school for a degree in psychiatry, opt for psychology instead.

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